Friday, May 25, 2012
North Texas Municipal Water District steps down to Stage 2 restrictions
Watering is now limited to twice a week.
Almost two months after hearing concerns from its member cities over their desire to ease water restrictions, the North Texas Municipal Water District approved changes to its water conservation plan on Thursday.
Thanks to recent rains and Lake Lavon being over capacity for the first time in two years, Deputy Director Mike Rickman said transitioning back to Stage 2 restrictions for its water conservation and drought contingency plan held certain stipulations and would begin June 1. The board will revisit the status in September.
"We would continue to ask the cities to maintain their reduction role of 10 percent, which is what it is under Stage 3, and we would encourage the public to wait on establishing any new landscaping if possible," Rickman said.
Landscape watering will be limited to no more than twice a week, a move that coincides with the absorption rate of the local soils, Rickman said.
In addition to environmental cues, the district's move to Step 2 is also a reflection of the feedback it received from city managers from Plano and four other cities, which met with Executive Director Jim Parks earlier this year to inform him of their intentions to lessen the restrictions based on the recent rains and the current level of Lake Lavon.
In April, Plano residents began watering their lawn once a week, a departure from the twice-a-month watering allowed under the modified Stage 3 restrictions which went into effect last November. Even with the lessening of the restrictions, the overall goal of reducing water usage by 10 percent remained in effect.
Although seasonal drought outlooks seem favorable for 2012, Rickman said there's still a possibility that last summer's drought could repeat itself this year and bring Lake Lavon to "not very comfortable" levels.
"We've been very fortunate since the first of the year," Rickman said. "We still have to be cautious, we're still going to go through the summer without our [Lake] Texoma supply, which is about a quarter of our supply. We still need to ask our cities to be diligent."
Since August 19, 2011, Plano's water usage has averaged 46.4 million gallons per day. Prior to that date, which is when the city implemented State 2 restrictions,107 million gallons of water were used per day in the city, according to Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock.
Under Stage 2, watering days for both Plano residential and business water consumers will continue to be based on the last number of the physical street address, which determines an odd or even watering day:
Watering with sprinklers between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on any day is prohibited, with residents encouraged to shut off their systems when rain is expected. Odd addresses may water Tuesdays and Fridays beginning June 1, while even addresses may water Mondays and Thursdays beginning June 4.
Foundations, new landscaping and first year plantings of shrubs and trees may be watered within a 10-feet radius of their trunk for up to two hours on any day.
"The Plano community has been stellar in its support and observance of the various outdoor watering restrictions implemented in response to the dry weather conditions that have plagued us over the past two years," said Mark Israelson, Plano director of customer and utility services, in a release. "As we continue to do our part to meet the District's regional goal of a 10 percent reduction in water consumption we know our residents and businesses will continue to be good stewards of our water resources through voluntary conservation."
Shep Stahel, one of Plano's representatives on the board of directors, said he supported the Stage 2 transition but did not want residents to be misguided by the change, urging them to still implement cautious water conservation practices.
"This is more of a convenience as much as anything, not just suddenly we have lots of water so we can use a lot more," Stahel said. "I think we need to work pretty hard to get that message out."
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